My quest for awesome things to do with pumpkin puree continues!

Most of my life, I thought I didn’t like bread pudding.  I think it’s because any time I came across it, it always involved raisins (yuck!) and some sort of liqueur.  Plus, as a kid, if a dessert didn’t have chocolate, I wasn’t really interested.  Bread pudding just seemed weird and unpalatable and was moved to the recesses of the dessert-possibilities area of my brain.

A couple of years ago, I was at a dinner where one of the proffered desserts was a black and white bread pudding.  They were little ramekins with a fluffy, creamy yellow cake and inside, molten dark and white chocolate sauces.  *This* was bread pudding?  This was… amazing!  The texture was lovely, the flavors rich and intense.  It was something I would actually choose if I had other options.  Sold!

Making this dessert at home, though, never happened until recently.  I never had a whole loaf of day-old bread hanging around, or the necessary staple ingredients, or a good recipe, etc. etc.  Completely randomly, I came across some recipes for Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  Would it be texturally palatable?  Would it be the right sort of flavor?  Given that the other new things I’ve tried with pumpkin have been a success, signs pointed to “yes.”  I chose a basic recipe, from The Joy of Baking, then bought a loaf of Italian bread to keep on the counter for a day or two.

Oh. My. WOW.  This was so good!  Not too sweet, so it’s not overwhelming when combined with the super-sugary toffee sauce.  I’d never had or made toffee sauce before, and it was easy.  The whole thing was really easy.  The most labor- and mess-intensive part was preparing the bread.  I removed the crusts, because I like a creamy pudding;  leaving the crusts on will make the pudding more chewy.  You can do whichever suits you.  I also used Egg Beaters, about 2/3-C, in place of the 2 eggs+1 yolk, and added a good pinch of nutmeg to the spices.

Get an 8×8 brownie pan and let’s get going!


  • 5 C day-old bread, crusts removed or left on, cubed
  • 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3/4 C pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 C half-and-half
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the toffee sauce:

  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350; place rack in center.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, half & half, butter, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt.
  • Add the bread cubes, and toss to coat well.  Make sure that all of the pieces get nice and soaked.
  • Place the bread in an ungreased 8×8 pan, and bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • An option is to put the plain bread in the pan, pour over the custard mixture, toss really well, and bake the whole thing for 35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Silky custard FTW!

To make the toffee sauce:

  • In a saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, and cream to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Watch the heat and make sure it doesn’t burn!  Remove from heat, and add the vanilla.  This can be made ahead of time and re-warmed.



So apparently there’s a pumpkin shortage going on;  heavy rains have killed crops (and the livelihoods of many many farmers).   I wanted to get a couple of  “just in case” cans of pumpkin puree to put in the pantry, but wasn’t really expecting there to be any after the story broke last week, imagining hordes of locals rushing out to buy up all the cans available before we got there.

Well, it was obvious there had been a run on the stuff: where last week, there’d been an amply-stocked shelf of several brands of puree, and a large pyramid display fully stocked, this week there was one sad box, with a couple dozen cans, sitting on the floor.  I bought two cans, and would happily use some of it to make this next recipe again.

I’ve been getting a little bored with sweet pumpkin preparations, delicious as they are (I’ve already switched over to apple-based desserts, and will post some of those recipes when I refine them a little).  However, as with most winter vegetables, pumpkin can be really off-putting to me when done savory.  I then remembered that one of my aunts had once made butternut squash ravioli, and despite really disliking butternut squash, I enjoyed the ravioli.  Hmm, perhaps something similar could be achieved with pumpkin?

What follows is a very simple recipe from GroupRecipes for a tomato-infused ravioli with a pumpkin/ricotta filling.  While even a newbie like me could follow the recipe easily, I’m not going to lie: rolling out pasta dough by hand is a lot of work.  I couldn’t get it as thin as I really wanted it, and mangled a few edges here and there, so ended up with 22 ravioli instead of 32.  However, all of them stayed sealed and together when boiling, and they were good enough to feel really worth the effort.

That said, I really really want a pasta machine for the next time I make this.  Oh — and this is in no way a diet food.  You might call this “rich.”  I call it “wow, I felt really fat the next day.  But it was so worth it.”

For sauce, the recipe at GroupRecipes recommends a pesto, but I heartily recommend sauteeing some sage and walnuts in a few tablespoons of unsalted butter.  Sage tastes amazing with this, and the walnuts provide a contrasting texture.


  • 1 C ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 C pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • another 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp water


  • In a small bowl, mix cheese, pumpkin, 1/2 tsp salt, and nutmeg until well-blended; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the other 1/2 tsp salt, and make a well in the center.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, tomato paste, and oil until well-blended, then pour into the well into the center of the flour.
  • Using a fork, move the flour from the sides of the bowl into the center, mixing until the dough gradually forms a ball.
  • Knead dough lightly on a floured, cloth-covered surface for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  • Cover and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal parts.  Cover whatever dough you’re not working with.  Take one of the quarters and roll it into a 12″x10″ rectangle.
  • Drop filling on one half of the rectangle, in 4 rows of two mounds each, 1-1/2″ apart.
  • Use a pastry brush and water to moisten all of the edges of the dough and the spaces between the mounds of filling.
  • Fold the rest of the dough over and press down all the edges and between the mounds of filling. Cut out ravioli with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, and seal edges with a fork.  Make sure to seal all edges well.
  • Place ravioli on a towel; let stand, turning once, 30 minutes or until dry.

To cook, bring well-salted water to a boil, add ravioli, reduce heat to medium, and cook until they pop up to the top, about 5-6 minutes.  Drain, return to the pot, add butter-sage sauce and toss to mix.

Yep, still on a pumpkin kick!  I actually adapted this from a cookie recipe at  According to the comments on many different pumpkin cookie recipes around the web, pumpkin cookies often tend to come out cake-like, so I experimented by making half of the batter as cookies, and the other half in a muffin tin.  The muffins came out much better, I thought, but were too heavy to really be called muffins, yet were not really cupcake-y either.  So “mini cakes” it is!

You can add chocolate chips or good chopped bar chocolate to this, if you like.  I had a bar of Green & Black’s 70% and used about a third of the bar, chopped, but 70% was really too high and clashed a little with the other flavors; 60% would be better.  (I haven’t used milk chocolate with pumpkin, but if it’s good, please let me know.)  Chopped toasted walnuts would also be a good addition.

If you don’t have Pumpkin Pie spice, use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice.  Another option with this is to add a pinch of ground cloves, too.


  • 2-1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together in medium bowl.
  • Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl, then add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, and beat until creamy.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients, 1/3 of the mixture at a time.
  • If adding chocolate or nuts, fold them in now.
  • Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-22 minutes or until golden on top.   Enjoy!

You can buy it, but it’s easy and inexpensive to make your own.  All you need is:

  • 4 parts cinnamon
  • 2 parts ginger
  • 1 part ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 part nutmeg

I like to use allspice and then throw in an extra pinch of cloves.  Mix all spices together, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Ta-da!

I had really bad allergies today and wasn’t in much of a mood to cook, so I decided on something simple that would make use of several of the vegetables I have on hand, along with an easy-to-cook dried penne pasta.  We’ve been eating whole-wheat pasta lately, but we only had regular on hand today, so I used that.


  • 3/4 lb. tiny penne pasta with lines
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a white onion, diced
  • 2 scallions (white and light green parts)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 stalks of broccolini, sliced (include florets and stalks)
  • 1/2 C red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups of curly kale, washed and shredded
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • splash of good Balsamic vinaigrette
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  • Fill a large saucepan with water for the pasta.  Bring to a boil, and add the pasta.
  • Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and cook until nearly translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook 3 or 4 minutes, until soft.
  • Add the diced tomato and a pinch of salt and saute about five minutes.  During this time, the pasta should be  ready to drain, so do that and set aside.
  • Add the broccolini, red pepper, and herbs to the sauteeing mixture and cook a minute or two, until the broccoli turns a lovely bright green.
  • Add the kale in several bunches, waiting for a bunch to wilt and cook down a bit before adding the next bunch.
  • Add the splash of balsamic vinaigrette and stir well, incorporating all of the flavors, and cook for about another minute.
  • Add to the waiting pasta, stir well, and season additionally as needed.  If you have any on hand, some grated Parmesan would go lovely with this.
  • Enjoy!

One of my favorite takeout-Chinese food items is scallion pancakes.  I know they’re loaded with salt and fat and have very little nutritional value, but they’re so tasty.  Not like I eat a ton of Chinese food or anything, but I’m sure one order of them is enough to clog at least one-tenth of my arteries.  (But they’re so tasty.)

So I was most gleeful to discover the Indian version, called “pudla” in Gujarati.  They’re made with chickpea flour and are ridiculously good.  I found this version on Nourish Me — the original is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian — and, having all the ingredients on hand, couldn’t wait to make them.  I actually made these for dinner, rolled like a dosa, stuffed with my coriander-ified version of Manjula Jain’s Aloo Masala.  Nom nom nom.

This recipe made 8 pudlas.


  • 1 C frozen peas, cooked and mashed lightly with a fork
  • 2 C besan (chickpea/garbanzo flour)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 C water
  • large thumb of ginger
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • olive oil for frying


  • Sift besan, spices, and salt into a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the center and slowly trickle in water, mixing well until there are no lumps – it’s important that there aren’t any lumps.  (I ended up having to strain out some lumps via a mesh sieve.)
  • Grate the ginger and squeeze the juice out of it, and add to the mixture, whisking well.
  • Stir in the peas and scallions.
  • Let the batter rest, at room temperature, for 30-60 minutes (I let it rest for 60 minutes).
  • Heat a skillet with about a teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat, moving the oil around so you get it all around the bottom of the pan.
  • Ladle some mixture into the center of the pan.  (If you want to thin it out to use as a substitute for dosa, like I did, use the back of a ladle or spoon in an outward-spiraling motion to spread the batter in the pan.)
  • Cook until, like a pancake, the edges are dry and they’re golden underneath.  Unlike a pancake, before you flip it, spoon on a bit of olive oil and use the back of a spoon to spread it around, then flip.
  • Serve with any variety of accompaniments: chutney, raita, whatever you like.

This recipe for very tasty spiced potatoes is from Manjula’s Kitchen.  By happy accident, I reached for the coriander I’d just crushed for another recipe instead of the cumin I was putting in this one.  I looked at the coriander in the pan, said, “ah, what the heck” and added the cumin anyway (just a little less) and hoped for the best.  The hit of coriander ended up being really nice.  Manjula’s suggestions for variations include adding 2 Tbsp of shredded carrot or green peas.

Use this as a filling for dosa (like an Indian crêpe).  We found them tasty enough to act as a side dish.


  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • pinch of hing (asoefetida)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I used yellow, since I didn’t have black)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 finely-chopped green chili
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro (I used parsley)


  • Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pan with enough water to cover.  Boil until tender enough to easily insert a fork.  Set aside to cool.  *Don’t rinse potatoes with cool water to cool, or they will absorb the water and get soggy.*  When they’re cool, peel them, then dice small.  Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  The oil is ready when a cumin seed will crack right away when you drop it in.
  • Add mustard seeds, cumin seed, (and coriander seeds if you’re klutzy like me) and hing.  (Give a quick stir and then get the cover ready – when the mustard seeds crack, they’re like popcorn and will just fly across the room.  You don’t want to get hit with one!)
  • As the mustard seeds stop cracking, add the turmeric, potatoes, chili and salt and mix well.
  • Stir-fry for a few minutes, until the potatoes are nicely finished but not over-done, and everything is fragrant and well-cooked together.
  • Add lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. (or parsley)

I found this made enough to fill 8 dosas nicely.

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